Most days we are actively engaged in running our businesses, maintaining what we do with the greatest of care and efficiency. We utilize metrics, milestones and deliverables as incentives to create profitable businesses. We employ specialized individuals who are experts in their field that help drive our businesses with new technologies and technical prowess. As business people we know what to do and how to do it, but do we understand and fully communicate the WHY?
I recently came upon a book published in 2009 by Simon Sinek, titled “Start with why.” The book makes a very powerful case based on how important the WHY really is. Understanding and embracing this knowledge allows us to become effective leaders and inspire change while creating flourishing businesses. You can enjoy his TED Talk here
Why should we care and why do we work so hard in this industry?
The organic community has a rich historic legacy grounded in passionate people who were driven by the WHY. They wanted to change the world one farmer and one consumer at a time. They wanted all consumers to have the choice of affordable nutritious food produced without harmful pesticides and herbicides. The founders of our industry, such as Rodale, held a vision of agriculture that did not pollute ground waters or harm farm workers and their communities. This vision of organic agriculture was instead built on the health of the soil and protecting the biodiversity of the land. Whole Foods, one of the founding companies in our industry, displays a good timeline of the Organic industry on their Website and outlines milestones of the organic movement. It wasn’t merely for money but an ideal that UNFI’s founder Michael Funk toiled for years to make this dream a reality. Our business really sprang up from a cultural movement.
Consumers buy organics because of the WHY, not because of how we run our businesses. In order to understand and fully communicate WHY we are in the organic food business we must understand our customer. In 2012, the size of the U.S. organic sector reached $35 billion a year, with an estimated 10% growth rate. According to OTA’s 2013 Organic Industry Survey, the organic industry has grown from 9 billion dollars a year in 2002 when the USDA National Organic Program was established. The findings report that 81 percent of U.S. families are now buying some organic products. This shows that more consumers are eating and buying food intentionally. They want to trust what is in their food and know where and how it is grown.
WHY trust the integrity of organic?
We must understand the intentional buyer and educate more consumers as to WHY they should purchase certified organic products. In order to do this it is important to know exactly what organic means and be versed in the facts. A great educational resource to learn the basics of organic agriculture is the National Organic Program’s Organic 101. It is through regulations and enforcement that organics can be trusted. The Organic Center highlights the latest research and peer reviewed science that communicates the benefits of organic farming. This organization provides timely information to communicate WHY Organics are safer and integral to the intentional consumer.
Knowing and communicating the WHY of organic products to our customers, employees, friends and families is the key to creating a vibrant organic industry. Circling back to our roots and understanding the WHY in what we do will create jobs and a healthier planet. Be an industry leader and embrace the passion of our industry. The WHY is really what we have.